Tampa, FL- A Tampa- area attorney who said he was the victim of a honey trap has had the DUI charges against him dropped as prosecutors
The scandal erupted in January when C. Phillip Campbell Jr., who was representing a local shock-jock Todd ‘MJ’ Schnitt in a defamation case, was caught driving drunk after having several drinks with a female legal assistant. Unbeknownst to Campbell, Melissa Personius, the lovely young woman who plied him with drinks, worked for the legal firm he was opposing in court.
Campbell lived just two blocks from Mailo’s Steak House where he met the young woman for drink so he didn’t plan on driving. The woman convinced Campbell to drive her to her vehicle which was parked in a different area of the parking lot. After dropping the woman off, Campbell was busted for DUI and taken to jail.
After his arrest Campbell insisted he was set up by his opposing legal team. His claims set of an investigation and eventually the FBI became involved. At the end of July prosecutors discovered that close to 200 texts were exchanged between the legal assistant, her boss and the police officer who arrested Campbell and decided to drop Campbell’s DUI charges
“The intensity of the communication was jaw-dropping,” said William Loughery, a prosecutor with the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Initially, Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor stood by the arresting officer, but in light of the state prosecutor’s investigation has since withdrawn her support.
“It is clear that Sgt. Ray Fernandez utilized bad judgment when he failed to remove himself from this investigation. He should have assigned it to an officer who did not have a personal connection to the tip.”
The released texts revealed the details of the set-up. Personius contacted her boss Robert Adams and joined Campbell at Malio’s where he frequently hung out. She kept in close contact with attorneys from the Adam & Diaco law firm, who then contacted Sgt. Fernandez, who staked out the parking lot. Fernandez then had one of his officers stop Campbell and conduct sobriety tests. Campbell was then arrested and charged with DUI.
Phone calls from that night indicate that Personius was on an undercover mission for the law firm, according to Loughery, who said it was clear Campbell was set up. He said Personious made certain “all the parties knew exactly what was transpiring virtually every minute,” according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Loughery’s report also stated that daschcam footage of Campbell’s arrest did not show a highly intoxicated man. His speech and balance don’t indicate intoxication. The report also indicated that the officers arrest would be called into question had the case made it to court.
“It is now absolutely clear that Mr. Campbell was the victim of a devious setup,” said his attorney, John Fitzgibbons. “And all honest and ethical police officers and lawyers should be deeply troubled over what happened.”